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Quebec Muslims Denounce Ban on Prayer Rooms in Schools

Leaders of the Muslim community from across Quebec have criticized Education Minister Bernard Drainville’s move to ban public schools from setting up prayer rooms on their premises.

Drainville, the father of the Parti Québécois (PQ) Charter of Values, now a CAQ minister, said he had been presented with at least two cases of schools in Laval where students could gather in a room to pray, ‘in violation of the spirit of the law on secularism.’

“It brings up a lot of emotions in our community,” said the president of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec, Mohamed Labidi, CBC reported.

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In a joint statement issued Thursday evening, representatives from several mosques with the Table de concertation des organismes musulmans (TCOM) expressed their shock and indignation at the decision.

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Disappointment in Ramadan

The authors of the statement include the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec, the Islamic Association of Rimouski, the Islamic Cultural Association of the Eastern Townships, the Association of Muslims of Greater Levis, Mac-Quebec, the Socio-cultural Islamic Association Louperivoise and BelAgir-Quebec.

“We are also indignant that this decision is made in the middle of Ramadan, a month of blessings, fasting, meetings with all fellow citizens and prayers for Muslim citizens of Quebec,” they wrote.

“We are also outraged that the minister is attacking the young people who are the future of all of us,” they continued in the statement.”

The authors added, “We say to the minister that you are not offering us the path of dialogue, but you are pushing us to take the path of law that the two Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights and Freedoms recognize, to fight against this decision.”

Muslims pray five times a day, with each prayer made up of a series of postures and movements, each set of which is called a rak‘ah.

The five prayer times are divided all through the day which starts with Fajr prayer at dawn.

Quebec is Canada’s most-Catholic province, but there has been a big increase in Quebec’s Muslim population, who now makes up five per cent of the province’s people, two percentage points more than a decade ago.

According to 2021 census, there are 421,710 Muslims in the province, up from 243,430 a decade ago, a 73-per-cent jump.